India 213 for 4 (Rahul 70, Raina 69, Hardik 32*, O’Brien 3-40) beat Ireland 70 (Kuldeep 3-16, Chahal 3-21, Umesh 2-19) by 143 runs
If the first T20I showed a distinct gap in skills between India and Ireland, the second T20I displayed exactly how wide that gap was. In front of a 9000-strong crowd at the packed Malahide ground, Ireland capitulated at the hands of India’s bowling attack, all out for their second-lowest T20I score to lose the two-match series 2-0.
It was the third-shortest innings in T20I history as India’s spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shared six wickets to cripple Ireland’s middle- and lower-order into submission. It set up India’s biggest margin of victory in the format, which was also the second-biggest margin of victory in all T20I cricket.
The game, however, was won in the afternoon’s first innings, when incoming opener KL Rahul thumped a 36-ball 70 to give India a flying start. Suresh Raina then anchored the innings with a 45-ball 60 to set the base for a big total, after which Hardik Pandya‘s nine-ball blitz of 32* ensured India crossed the 200-run mark in consecutive matches for the first time.
With a target that big it was going to be a difficult chase, especially after how the first game turned out. But Ireland’s batsmen made the same mistakes that marred their loss on Wednesday, looking to play cross-batted shots to Chahal and Kuldeep, crashing and burning to the wristspinners’ guile. Eventually, the hosts were bowled out in 12.3 overs.
Playing only his second T20I match – and his first after missing 65 games – Umesh Yadav was given the new ball. He struck off his second delivery when an outswinger found the outside edge of opener Paul Stirling. In his next over, Umesh was smashed for 12 off the first three balls, but a comeback delivery aimed at the base of middle stump sent William Porterfield back as well. Trying to play a ramp shot over short fine leg, Porterfield shuffled across way too much only to expose his middle stump. And when debutant Siddarth Kaul prised the wicket of James Shannon with a short ball that was sliced to cover, Ireland were reeling at 22 for 3 with eight overs of spin still to play.
There was still work to do (or at least do enough to finish respectably) with Andy Balbirnie, Simi Singh and the captain Gary Wilson to follow, but when the spinners came on, Ireland’s middle order just wasn’t sure how to pick them.
In his first over, Chahal bowled five straight deliveries, while the sixth turned just enough – away from Balbirnie – to sneak past the outside edge and crash into middle stump. Three balls later, Kevin O’Brien holed out to third man while trying to clobber a Pandya ball to cow corner and by the time Simi was trapped lbw in front of off stump, Ireland were 36 for 6 and staring at potentially their lowest-ever T20I total.
That, however, did not happen. Wilson made 15 – helped by double-digit scores from No. 8 Stuart Thompson and No. 10 Boyd Rankin – to take Ireland past their lowest-ever T20I score of 68, but when Rankin skipped down the wicket to try and lift Kuldeep over his head in the 13th over, wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik came swooping down and whipped the bails off to seal India’s win with 35 balls to spare.
Earlier in the day, Wilson put India in on what appeared to be a greenish surface. It was a fine batting track, with the ball coming easily onto the bat, and with a village-style ground to boot – India were always looking for a big score.
Rahul, who was in rampaging form at the IPL – and brought in for the rested Shikhar Dhawan – smashed six sixes and three fours in his 36-ball knock of 70. He dominated a 106-run partnership for the second wicket with Raina, but the 57-ball partnership was halted by O’ Brien, after which India suffered a brief hiccup.
Rohit Sharma, batting at No. 4, drove straight to point on his second ball, and Ireland pulled India’s run-rate down by frustrating the incoming Manish Pandey. Pandey hit only one boundary in his unbeaten 20-ball 21, and his struggle might have kept India from breaching 200. But when Hardik came in in the 18th over, he had other plans, smashing four sixes and a four off the final two overs to take India past the 200-run mark. He teed up to anything pitched full, and in classic Hardik style, smashed his boundaries in the arc between mid on and mid off.
As Kohli had promised at the end of the first game, everyone in India’s squad played in the two-game series. Everyone except Washington Sundar, who suffered an ankle injury in training earlier in the week. With the confidence gathered in Ireland, Kohli’s men now make their way down to England for a full tour of ODIs, T20Is and Tests.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.